ST. LOUIS – Sam Bradford hasn’t been at his best against the Seattle Seahawks.
In four meetings, the University of Oklahoma product has completed 51 percent of his passes for 818 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions.
He’s been sacked 15 times and has a 63.1 passer rating in those contests.
Most important, Bradford has a 1-3 record against Seattle.
So what’s been the key for Seattle?
“You have to get him off his spot,” Seattle defensive lineman Jason Jones said. “He can get out the pocket and run, but he’s a true pocket quarterback. So we’re just going to try and get him off his spot, get people in his face and hopefully we’ll get to him.”
Bradford rebounded from a sophomore slump, and has played solid in his third season. He’s thrown for 660 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions in three games this season.
“He’s very competitive,” new St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher said. “He’s an accurate passer. He’s got great huddle presence and I think he’s going to be a really good player.”
But one thing St. Louis has struggled to do is protect Bradford.
He’s already been sacked 12 times through three games, including six last week in a 23-6 setback at Chicago.
To make matters worse, three of the Rams’ projected starters up front will not play against Seattle. And a fourth, former Seahawks offensive tackle Wayne Hunter, has a knee injury that could keep him out. Hunter is slated to start at left tackle with normal starter Rodger Saffold out for at least a month with his own knee injury.
That’s not a good sign for Bradford, who’s facing a Seattle defensive front licking their chops after sacking Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers eight times in the first half of the Seahawks’ win over the Packers on Monday night.
“It’s just a tough group to try to block because they’re so multiple in the way they can rush you,” Bradford said. “They can beat you with power, they can beat you with speed, and they can beat you around the edge with their pressure.
“They’re doing a great job right now up front and we’re definitely aware of that, and it is something we’re going to have to be mindful of if we want to perform well on Sunday.”
Along with containing Bradford, the key for Seattle will be putting Monday’s controversial victory over Green Bay in the rear-view mirror, and focusing on the team’s preparation for St. Louis.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said he believes his team did a good job of that this week, and that they arrive in St. Louis ready to earn the team’s first NFC West Division win of the season.
“I love to see us come back and play really good, hard football again and execute well, and then we’ll have learned some lessons,” Carroll said. “We’ll be able to grow from that, so it’s a good test for us in that regard.”
Carroll also gets another shot to see if his team can bring the same intensity and execution on the road. The Seattle coach was frustrated with how his team played down the stretch in a season-opening loss at Arizona.
The Seahawks are 5-12 under Carroll on the road since he took over in 2010. So if they want to be a playoff team, Seattle needs to improve in that area.
But whether they are at CenturyLink field or at an opposing team’s stadium, veteran linebacker Leroy Hill said he believes his defense’s effort will be the same – which is not good news for Bradford.
“We can line up against anybody,” Hill said. “We’re going to play you well, and that’s just what it is. We have a good team on that side of the ball. We have a good defense. We’re confident in what we do. We feel like we match up well with a lot of the good offenses in the league.”
SEATTLE (2-1) AT ST. LOUIS (1-2)
10 a.m., Edward Jones Dome
TV: Ch. 13. Radio: 710-AM, 97.3-FM.
The series: The Seahawks hold a 17-10 edge over the Rams. Seattle has won 13 of the past 14 contests. The Seahawks swept the season series last year, defeating the Rams in St. Louis on Nov. 20, 24-7, and taking care of St. Louis a month later in a 30-13 victory on Monday night on Dec. 12 at CenturyLink Field.
What to watch: Linebacker Leroy Hill did not practice Friday, and is questionable because of a calf issue. But Seattle coach Pete Carroll said he expects the 30-year-old veteran to play. Second-year pro James Carpenter is expected to play for the first time since having season-ending anterior cruciate ligament surgery knee surgery in December. Carpenter has been working at left guard with the Seahawks starters in practice this week, which means that Paul McQuistan, the starting left guard for the first three games, likely will move to right guard. John Moffitt, last week’s starting right guard, is doubtful because of a knee issue. ... St. Louis running back Steven Jackson was limited in practice this week because of a groin injury, and is questionable. However, Jackson is expected to play. Jackson has never rushed for more than 100 yards against Seattle in 15 contests. ... St. Louis’ first-round draft choice, defensive lineman Michael Brockers, is expected to play in his first regular-season game after missing the first three with a high-ankle sprain.
The pick: Seahawks, 27-13
No. Name (position) Ht./Wt.Year
3 Russell Wilson (QB) 5-11/206First
Look for Seattle to open it up offensively and let Wilson make some plays through the air.
81 Golden Tate (WR) 5-10/202Third
He received a lot of attention nationally after his game-winning touchdown catch; now he just needs to relax and play.
29 Earl Thomas (FS) 5-10/202Third
He’ll be tasked with stopping the Rams’ most productive receiver, Danny Amendola.
54 Bobby Wagner (LB) 6-0/241First
He has to have a tackling plan going against Rams running back Steven Jackson.
No. Name (position) Ht./Wt.Year
11 Brandon Gibson (WR) 6-0/210Fourth
Rams’ second-leading receiver gets another shot to shine against his hometown team (he’s from Rogers High in Puyallup).
72 Wayne Hunter (T) 6-5/318Ninth
Former Seahawk charged with protecting Sam Bradford’s blindside.
55 James Laurinaitis (LB) 6-2/250Fourth
One of the better linebackers in the league, but he’ll have his hands full trying to slow down Marshawn Lynch
31 Cortland Finnegan (DB) 5-10/188Seventh
Former Tennessee Titan brought in to teach young Rams how first-year coach Jeff Fisher wants them to firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com 253-597-8437 blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @eric_d_williams